Over the years, I’ve talked a lot about comments: Are they important? Should you allow them? Should you turn them off? Is deleting comments ever OK?
Let’s look at the latter question in that list: “Is deleting comments ever OK?”
Plenty of bloggers have announced they’re killing comments on their blogs. The primary reason they provide is the time it takes them to moderate all the spam. I rarely receive spam comments here, thanks to plugins like Akismet and Bad Behavior. So that explanation always sounded a bit off to me.
Many bloggers believe comments aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. A while back, I took an informal poll during Blogchat. I asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how important comments are on your blog. The average response, it turns out, was 4.25.
So there’s a lot of thought in the blogosphere that comments aren’t that valuable.
I still don’t think killing comments altogether is so great of an idea. I’d rather give people the chance to chime in if they have something useful to say.
But I require one little thing.
It’s called respect. Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point of anger in our society where people think they can be as mean-spirited as they like.
Browse any Facebook page and read the comments. You might be surprised at the hostility and vitriol. But you probably won’t be surprised at all.
In fact, I imagine you’d be more surprised if you found none.
I was sure to include a little hint to would-be commenters at this blog. I state right up front that comments must be respectful. Then I add that I reserve the right to delete comments that don’t meet this site’s guidelines.
And yes, I have recently deleted comments.
There was a time when deleting comments bothered me.
Those days are long gone.
I’ll admit that it took me a while to give myself “permission” to remove comments that were rude or seemed to be written by trolls. Somehow, many bloggers don’t like that thought. They somehow feel they’re violating a trust.
But if you post a blog comment policy, you should enforce it. If you don’t want to enforce it, don’t post it.
And if your blog comment policy spells out what you expect and a troll comes along, they have no one but themselves to blame if their words disappear.
(If you’re looking for that permission to start deleting comments that are rude, insulting, profane or whatever else is against your rules, consider this it.)